Mrs P’s Lullaby
A Christmas Tale
Songs I Like Series
Text copyright © 2017 Mia Soto
All Rights Reserved
Chapter 5: 5 Golden Rings
December; Italy 1814
“No, no please no.” He was startled to hear that voice in his home as he walked in from the cold. Again it sounded. “No, please. I only wanted to return these.”
She was scared, begging and his stomach churned at the sound of her fear. His feet fell hard with his urgent strides moving toward the sound of her voice in the library. He flung open the door and glared from the entry.
His inebriated father pawed at her as she struggled to break free of his embrace. For days since the announcement, the man had been celebrating the power of the union to be. He was bleary eyed with wine and the possibilities of such a joining of families. His mother had left for Firenze with Sophia to fetch his aunts in advance of the celebrations. They were two bachelors alone.
Paolo for his part avoided his father at all costs. When he left earlier, his father was in his study on his way to drunken unconsciousness. Paolo could see the relief flood her face as he strode into the room.
“Really, Father. You make a fool of yourself.” His look of disgust was palpable.
“Get out of here!”
“With pleasure, come Maria.” Paolo reached for her.
“No she is to stay. We are speaking on matters.”
“I see no speaking. I see a drunk imposing himself on an innocent.”
“You do not question a man in his home!” His father boomed in outrage and pushed Maria so hard she stumbled. Paolo caught her tempering the rage that flared in him.
“Her affairs are my affairs.” Paolo gritted out pulling her by the hand behind him.
She clung to his back resting her forehead against him. There was a surrender in her confidence that he would protect her and a feeling of invincibility filled him knowing she trusted him as such. No mountain could stand in his way to care for her.
The old man slurred, red eyed, swaying trying to understand his son’s words. “What do you mean? This mousy vagrant?”
“Not so mousy that she didn’t catch your eye.” Paolo could see the confusion playing out on his father’s face.
“What of that sister?”
“A past affair.” Paolo’s arm reached behind him to assure her as she clasped his waist.
“A past affair?” His father parroted. “Not the whorish sister you wanted?”
“No. It will always be Maria.”
Paolo spoke the words as a state of confidence filled him like a damn. The image of her struggling against his father, the truth that she was the one woman he would ever love, all of it was settling in his soul like river silt after a ripple current. There was nothing left to ponder. Whatever the cost, they would be together.
The man stumbled around the sofa pointing a finger. “I won’t have this.”
“You have little choice in the matter.” Paolo swiped away the sweaty hand that grabbed for her. “Touch even a hair on her head, Father, and this may very well be the last conversation you and I have.”
“You!” The man swayed and swallowed hard. He did not look well. “YOU!” He breathed hard before falling onto his knees and then onto his face with a resounding thump on the wood floors. His son looked down on him contemptuously as his snores began.
“He’s so angry.” Her soft whisper was full of fear.
Paolo wrapped his arm around her bringing her in as they peered down at the slumbering heap. “Did he hurt you?”
She shook her head with her gaze steady on the snoring corpse in front of them. Relief like a baptism flushed over him and he placed a long kiss on her head. She wrapped her arms around him burying her face in his chest.
“He might, though, now that he knows of us.” She said into his chest.
“Maria.” He lifted her face so that he could gaze in her eyes. Fear and worry were marring her features. He kissed her with soft unbending passion their lips clinging after. “I won’t let him, anyone, hurt you.” He folded her into his arms again looking down at the pitiful soul at his feet. “It’s likely he won’t even remember this.”
“I will pray for such a miracle,” she said.
“What are you doing here? I left you at your father’s a short time ago.” She had made no mention of coming to his home.
“I wanted to return the books, and perhaps -” She blushed and shook her head.
“I thought I might see you. The days are spending away and soon we will not be able to meet so easily.” She wiped a tear.
“Maria.” He spoke her name like a prayer tilting her face up to place another longing kiss that erupted in passion. Her lips molded his, following his lead, as desperate for more as he was. He dragged her by the hand to the door to call out, “Gio! Gio!”
“Take care of Father,” Paolo ordered and Gio nodded with elegant discretion.
“Come with me.” Paolo said to Maria consuming her with a burning look.
She nodded. She did not question their destination as her delicate fingers clasped his. When he led her through the door and closed it behind him he could see the indecision written on her face. It seemed so right, her standing in the middle of the large room awkwardly turning in wonder.
“Your rooms?” She asked.
He nodded. She wandered with timid hesitation stopping to admire here and there. Her unspoken words thundered around them. Still he waited in patience for her decision. When she came to stand by his bed she faced him with the bluntness of a decided mind.
“Your bed? This is where we shall be.” Almond eyes fluttered up to see his nod of agreement. She flushed. He held his breath waiting for her agreement, praying for her agreement. She whispered with finality. “Yes.”
The breath he had held while awaiting her reply whooshed out. In a few long strides he was wrapped around her almost knocking her off her feet with the force of his kiss. Her hands palmed his rigid biceps, running the length and back then curling onto them. He was rough with her unable to contain his need. A hard tug tilted her head back so that he could drink her to the point of suffocation bringing her muffled cry. Golden hair cascaded down her back as his mouth kissed a hungry path to the swell of her breast.
Then she pushed away. Trapped in her gaze, he watched her unlace her gown letting it pool in a soft silk puddle around her feet, leaving a barrier of sheer undergarments. Hazel eyes on fire for her studied her perfection so thoroughly she began to squirm, unease written on her face.
“You are beautiful everywhere.”
His eyes met hers as they tossed away articles of clothing between clinging kisses. He swept her up and carried her to his bed. They sunk into it crawling against each other, lips meshed and tongues heavy.
“I feel enchanted by you. Under a spell.” She sighed as he kissed a path down her body.
The trail of his lips left a warmth followed by a cruel chill as he meandered between the peaks and valleys on her body. He felt boyish untried as if he had never done such a thing before. He wanted it to be perfect for her this her first time.
“I want to kiss every part of you. Leave no space unsung.”
He placed soft kisses into the delicate skin of her inner thighs. To her frustrated groan, he weaved away from her sex continuing around her body turning her to lavish that side with undistracted attention. His tongue tasted and memorize the texture the salt the sweet of her.
When he could feel she was near frenzied with want he fell between her legs. Her fingers weaved through his hair, holding him to her when his mouth clasped her ready wetness. Her cries echoed.
He chuckled, “’tis good we are alone.”
“Don’t mock me,” she cried out arching higher, her fingers almost painfully grasping his hair, when he delved deeper into her. He snaked his way back to rest his weight on her and she cried out in frustration. “No.”
“No?” His eyes were filled with laughter at her irritation. He wrapped her legs around his waist lifting her hips to his. Her eyes widened in pleasure. “Yes after all?”
“Yes.” She agreed.
With a roll, he straddled her on top of him. Naked and glorious, she looked like Venus astride his stomach, her wetness branding him. Firm round mounds with rosy peaks flashed under the mane of hair flowing around her. He dragged her mouth to his, hands smoothing and exploring every part of her that they could reach.
To his surprise she pushed him down and her lips kissed a path along his muscled torso. When she unlaced his trousers and struggled to pull them down, shock over took surprise.
“What are you about?” He asked.
“Lift your hips and you will see.” She had a twinkle in her eye. He followed her command springing free in a formidable sight. Her eyes rounded in wonder for a moment.
“Don’t be afraid.” He reached over to caress her thigh.
She nodded though he saw the lingering fear even as she encircled him with her gentle hand. His eyes closed as she explored him. He steadied his breath admonishing himself to have a little control where she was concerned. Yet when her warm mouth took over where her hands had been his eyes flew open.
“Where did you learn that?” Anger and jealousy flashed in a nanosecond.
She sat up looking upset and unsure kneeling with her hair flowing around her. “Eloisa.”
He relaxed with a laugh and fell onto his back. “Eloisa?”
“Yes,” she bristled and looked away embarrassed and angry. “I asked her.”
“No!” The discomfort was written in her fiery blush. “About men and women. She was all too willing to enlighten me.” He turned her head back to him so that he could swim in her soft brown eyes. “If she had known I meant you and not Mario she may not have been so eager.”
The jealousy returned with just the mention of Mario’s name. He swooped her down and rested between her legs. “While I might thank Eloisa. I would prefer we learn such things together.”
She looked wide eyed and desperate as he pushed the slightest bit deeper. Her body was supple under him, silky and sinewy. She was heaven, gliding her hands over his body, his back, his muscled bottom. His tongue invaded her mouth and his hand ran the length of her lithe body cupping her soft bottom and bringing it up to him to bury the slightest bit deeper in her.
“Yes,” she sighed. “Please, Paolo.” She arched against the want of having him deep in her.
“I’m going to fill you Maria, full. Ever…and always.”
With a deep unrelenting thrust he did just that. She cried out her arms clutching his shoulders and her head buried into his neck. She was tight against the thickness stretching her. The pleasure was almost unbearable to him.
“What a pull and ache.” She kissed his neck.
He waited with kisses to her face and bosom, shoulders and arms, as she shifted this way and that trying to find ease in the new sensation. She lifted her hips with a slow roll to wedge him deeper and he sighed relief that she would not stop them. Her legs wrapped around him as he gave gentle nudges.
“Is there more?” She tried to urge him on in an awkward demanding way.
He smiled into her neck. “So much more, my love.”
He slid in and out with a deep bottoming and her eyes opened in joy. She was exquisite, velvety, warm. He slid again smiling when she flung her arms overhead in ecstasy arching like a cat. He held still shaking with the restraint.
“Shall I stop? Is the pain unbearable?”
“No, don’t stop,” she whispered trying to bring his hips back to hers.
Her hand clasped his neck and the other flexed over the iron of his muscled bottom. Then slow, gentle he began. Her moans grew louder their breaths ragged as his muscle flexed deliberately in and out of her. She tried to coax him into a faster rhythm and he smiled at her instincts.
“More please.” Her eyes fluttered open to meet his hovering over her.
With a kiss he began to move in earnest over and over, harder and harder. Her legs wrapped around him and her cries became louder as she threw her head back in bliss. She was his, now and forever. This soft little angel with a bit of a devil in her. He collapsed on her like leaden blanket no energy left to hold himself right.
He enjoyed the feel of her beneath him pliable but firm. Her limbs were wrapped around him like a present as she kissed his neck and shoulders. He lifted his head placing a lingering kiss on her dewy mouth. He wanted to speak but there were no words for such a moment. He was changed forever. Sweaty, spent, buried deep in her, their eyes glazed over in love, he could not imagine another day spent without this girl as a part of everything he did.
“I finished my book today.” She broke the spell of silence, her fingers playing in his hair. He shifted to her side and she groaned in protest. “I like the feel of you inside of me.”
He clasped her face and let his lips drape hers. “If you continue saying such lascivious things I will use you until you are sore and battered.”
She giggled, a soft, comfortable laugh that floated through the air pierced his skin and filled his blood with warm happiness. “That sounds wonderful,” she sighed.
“That one?” She asked
“Yes that one. That smile. That one is my favorite.” They fell into each other unable to get enough of their touches.
“Did you like your book?” He rested his head on his hand and stroked away her loose tendrils.
“Yes, very much. So very much.” She nodded. Playfully she pushed him to his back and rested across the ripples of his chest. A careless toss of her hair revealed the mischievous gleam in her eyes. “May I ask you something, signore?”
“Anything, mio amore.”
“And you won’t be cross with me?” She was placing gentle kisses on his muscled chest with her hair tumbled around them and right then she could have said she was going to drive a sword through him and he would have agreed with giddy abandon.
“I could never be cross with you.” He assured her. His hand ran the length of her body cupping her bottom with a fond squeeze. She squealed in surprise giving him her impish grin.
“How could you have ever wanted Eloisa?” This was not a wise conversation at any time but most certainly not in his bed. He groaned and she pouted. “You said you would not be cross. You said I could never be cross with you.”
“Little devil.” He kissed away her grin. “You want to speak of Eloisa do you?” It was the last thing he wanted to speak about so he decided to change the topic. She laughed a throaty laugh when he rolled her onto her back. He slipped his hand between her legs and soon his fingers were exploring deep inside of her. “What do you to know?”
“Well you told, um, I think, uhh ohh.” Her words were jumbled and her body rhythmic beneath his hands. She tried to garble out her words until she gave up. “Never mind. It is unimportant.”
He lifted her to straddle him and enjoyed the slow sink as she covered him. Her eyes were limpid as they began moving. She flowed against him with grace and beauty both of them hovering in kisses and cries. When she shuddered falling onto him he held her with arms of steel resolve.
“I love you Maria.” He lifted her chin to kiss her in promise. “I will find a way, Maria. Even if I must summons the angels from heaven.”
“Signore,” Her eyes danced mischievously. “I believe if anyone could, it would be you.”
As night wore on darkness wrapped everything in silence. She slept in his arms. Her breaths came in soft sighs. With a careless flop, she flipped to her back throwing her arms wide. He smothered a chuckle. She looked like a child so comfortable and peaceful.
It was easy to watch her waiting in anticipation of her next move touching her to brush away her hair, caress her body. She sat up once without warning with the smile that melted his heart. He thought she was awake. Mumbled and garbled he somehow made out that she said.
“I love you, signore, with all my heart.”
She flopped back to the bed fast asleep. What else was there to know about her? He could spend a lifetime delighting in her idiosyncrasies. His thoughts grew serious and he bent to kiss her brow.
Just one angel, God above. Just one. To point the way.
December; Italy, Present Day
The attic was dusty and musty and dimly lit by a soft ray of light filtering through a filthy little window. She had already downed a Benadryl or Italy’s equivalent in an effort to combat her sneezing. More than three hundred years of junk had accumulated up there.
She was hoping maybe to come across a DaVinci in one of the chests or piles of junk. That would be a go for gelato sort of find. As she pushed aside a heavy trunk filled with moth ridden turn of last century clothes, she spied a little box under a shelf on the bottom floor. She sunk to her knees to fish the box out from behind the opening. It seemed almost happy to come out of its hiding place. The dim light flashed with illumination brightening the room.
She smiled running her hand over the mother of pearl and tarnished silver design of the box. She knew even before opening it that it was a music box. As she raised the top to reveal its hidden treasures she heard fumbling up the rickety stairs. In another moment, Serge’s tired face popped up through the opening.
“There you are,” he said continuing up the stairs and into the attic. He ducked his head shuffling toward her. “I said I’d clean out up here.”
“I know, but I had a minute,” she answered, not adding the gripe that he had said that months ago. They had barely spoken since their blow out the day before. Years together had given them the stamina to stay pissed at each other for extended periods of time even if they really were not sure what they were pissed about. They could always dredge up past grievances to fuel the fire of discontent.
He sank down beside her leaning against a trunk. “Well don’t lift anything heavy. Jonah and I will do that.”
They sat in silent stalemate until she sighed with a smile. He looked so young, handsome, sitting there with his long legs stretched out in front of him brushing against hers. His hands rested in his lap on faded denim jeans and his heavy blue cable knit sweater made his icy blue eyes that much bluer. He reached out to play with one of her hands.
“Find anything good?”
She shrugged fingering the music box. She met his eyes with a comfortable gaze. “Not sure yet. Probably not, just quaint three hundred year old junk instead of Mississippi junk.”
He smiled, “do you want to go home for Christmas, Natalie? It’s not too late.”
What was there to go home to? All that was left was a huge beach house and the reminder that she had never fit into that version of society either. Everyone was happy in Italy it seemed, everyone but her.
If she was being honest, she had not been happy since long before Italy. It seemed money could not buy her happiness or peace from lifelong insecurities or absolution from the pitfalls of motherhood or hope that love could endure through a lifetime.
“Maybe next year.” She looked down again letting her hair fall into her face.
He leaned forward and brushed it aside in a familiar way. “What’s happened to us, golubushka? What’s happening to us?” Shuffling closer so that his hands could cradle her face, he begged, “tell me.”
He waited for her answer in that moment, a quiet little moment, in which she could say something. Say anything. Or she could say nothing. It was just a moment, the air heavy and still with anticipation. It hung waiting, expiring. Going. Going. Going. Gone. His hands dropped away and she cleared her throat.
“I should keep working here.” Her voice was thick with regret.
He nodded with resignation. “Ok.”
“I’ll call you in a bit to get some of these things out of the way,” she said.
He stopped to take her in for a long moment. She thought she might almost get another chance to fill that empty void she had just left between them. He seemed to want to say something, but then he decided against it and headed down the stairs. She was left to ponder the truth that often you only ever got one chance.
Shaking off the melancholy that was floating around her she turned her attention to the little box still sitting on her lap. It opened with ease revealing a blue velvet lined jewelry box with a tiny porcelain baby and kitten that flipped up on a mother of pearl platform. It was beautiful and filled with jewelry.
Oh my god, maybe they were going for gelato that night. Most of the pieces were dim gold necklaces with small dull gemstones, but in the middle, in a little hidden compartment, sat a ring of remarkable interest. It was a diamond, not small, even if not as shiny as its modern counterpart. The mounting was simple and elegant. She held it up to the light to watch the pave diamonds glitter next to the large center stone. It was beautiful, someone’s engagement promise once upon a time.
Without thought, she slipped off her wedding band placing it in the compartment where the ring had just sat. Then she slipped on the ring surprised it fit so well. A shock of electricity jolted her body heaving her backwards like she was suffering a seizure.
She wanted to cry out from the pain but her tongue was blocking her airway. She felt herself become lightheaded. The air evaporated in her lungs leaving behind the poison of carbon monoxide. A voice whispered a saying she had etched on a piece of Mississippi driftwood that sat on her desk: being deeply loved gives strength; loving deeply gives courage.
Then it was dark. Totally dark.